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Joe Manchin's Empty Gesture To Demand Fair Pay For The US Women's Soccer Team
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Joe Manchin's Empty Gesture To Demand Fair Pay For The US Women's Soccer Team

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WVa.) introduced legislation on Wednesday to require equal pay for players on the United States Women's National Soccer Team.

His bill would prohibit the use of any federal funds for the men's 2026 World Cup, which the United States is co-hosting, unless the United States Soccer Federation agrees to provide equitable pay to the women's and men's national teams. The U.S. women's team, which has won the last two World Cups and is the favorite in this summer's Olympics, is part of a years-long lawsuit demanding equal pay to the men's and women's national teams.

Manchin introduced the same bill in 2019, and he knows it will fail.

It's because, despite his party's narrow control of the Senate (it's evenly divided at 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaker), the filibuster requires 60 votes to advance any bill. Those extra 10 Republicans are nowhere to be found for Manchin's bill, and he is one of the few in his party opposed to abolishing the filibuster.

As a result, his bill will not be moved forward.

Ironically, Manchin introduced his bill on the same day that Senate Republicans used the filibuster to stop the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill aimed at addressing the country's gender pay gap more broadly, which House Democrats passed along party lines in April.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Manchin bemoaned the fact that Republicans killed the Paycheck Fairness Act while promoting his bill on equal pay for female soccer players, despite the fact that both bills are effectively dead due to the filibuster, which he is fighting to keep in place.

“This was a commonsense bill, and I am disappointed that we were unable to come together to support equal pay for all,” said Manchin of the Paycheck Fairness Act.

“My first vote as a senator was to support paycheck fairness, and to this day, I am proud to lead the fight for equal pay across all workplaces, including the soccer field,” he continued. “I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this commonsense bill to ensure a level playing field for everyone, including our top-notch U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team.”

Manchin's office did not respond to a request for comment on the likelihood that his bill will die due to the filibuster, which he continues to support.

Democrats are desperately trying to pass the For The People Act, a sweeping voting rights and elections reform package aimed at countering a surge of GOP-led state legislatures enacting new voter suppression laws, but the filibuster is preventing them from doing so.

This year, Republican state legislators have introduced at least 389 bills restricting voting access in 49 states and passed 22 such laws in 14 states, justifying the need for these bills by repeating the lie that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump and claiming that these bills will protect against voter fraud. (Data show that voter fraud is an infinitesimal risk.)

In reality, the bills are aimed at preventing people from voting and primarily target communities of color. It is no coincidence that the four states where Republicans have filed the most bills aimed at restricting voting — Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, and Pennsylvania — are all states Joe Biden won by narrow margins.

The For The People Act was passed almost entirely along party lines by House Democrats in March. In the Senate, 49 of 50 Democrats have signed on as co-sponsors of the bill. Manchin is the lone holdout, saying last week that he will not support the bill because it is not bipartisan, and he has also stated his strong opposition to changing filibuster rules.

That means the For The People Act, the Paycheck Fairness Act, and Manchin's bill to require equal pay for the United States Women's National Soccer Team are all effectively dead.

And, regardless of how you spin it, virtually every other bill introduced by Manchin or any other Democrat that cannot be filibustered is doomed.

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